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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: Soudal Open (2024)

The DP World Tour is back in action after a three week hiatus as it kicks off its European Swing with a stop in Belgium for the Soudal Open.

This event, formally known as the Belgium Open, has not been a consistent stop on the DP World Tour Schedule but is now being played for the third consecutive year.

It was first played in 1910 and was won by Frenchman Arnaud Massey. Lee Westwood won two editions of this event in 1998 and 2000 but then the event was dropped from the schedule following his second victory.

It wasn’t until 2018 that the event made a return but in a different format as the Belgian Knockout. This event was a match play/stroke play hybrid event but was only staged twice. However, it was played at this year’s venue - Rinkven International.

From there, the event returned in 2022 as a typical stroke play event and will now be played for three consecutive seasons. 

The Field

This week’s field consists of many of the DP World Tour house-hold names and a few Belgians looking to claim victory on their home soil.

This week’s field is headlined by the likes of Jordan Smith, Yannik Paul, Adian Otaegui, Tristan Lawrence, Bernd Wiesberger, Zander Lombard and Richard Mansell.

Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald will also be teeing it up this week in Belgium.

With the list of names already presented, Belgians Thomas Pieters of the LIV Tour and Nicolas Colsarts will be seeking a victory on home soil.

Simon Forsstrom of Sweden is the defending champion as he held off fellow countryman Jens Dantorp by a single stroke a season ago. He’ll be back this week in an attempt to win back-to-back events in Belgium.

England’s Sam Horsfield won the first event back in Belgium in 2022 but will not be playing this week.

Although a different format, Otaegui won the Belgian Knockout in 2018 and Guido Migliozzi won in 2019. Both will be playing this week.

The Course

Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp plays host to the Soudal Open for the third consecutive season.

It plays on the shorter side in terms of DP World Tour venues at 6,924 yards and a Par 71.

Rinkven was in existence in the early 1980’s and was originally designed by Belgian golfer and coach, Paul Rolin. Since, the course has undergone a series of changes and was expanded to two 18 hole courses - the North and the South.

This week’s event will be held as a composite of both of the courses.

The course is described as “a wonderfully peaceful area of nature” with a “mixture of woodland and parkland holes with water coming into play on several holes,” per the venue’s website.

Getting off the tee with distance won’t be of the utmost importance this week as many of the holes will force layups. The fairways, although flat and exposed, are tight and tree lined. Oftentimes golfers will be taking irons off the tee.

In the long list of defenses that the course offers is smaller than average Bentgrass greens. 

This is an accuracy based course, so of course, Strokes Gained: Approach will be a key stat. 

Scrambling too will be of the utmost importance this week with these small Bentgrass greens and forced layups. Being able to salvage par to keep pace will be crucial

The par five fifth here at Rinkven plays as the easiest hole on the course but is followed by a very tough stretch. Holes six, seven, eight, nine and ten ranked as the fourth, fifth, 14th, second and first in terms of toughness a year ago.

In all, this is a much different track than what we’ve seen on Tour so far this season.

The Weather

As of the time of writing this, we can expect some wet conditions through the first two days of the event. There is a 60-percent and a 50-percent chance of precipitation for both Tuesday and Wednesday leading into this event. From there, Thursday and Friday are each calling for a 60-percent chance of precipitation. Winds will be at the highest on Thursday at 12 miles-per-hour before dipping down to six-to-eight miles-per-hour across the last three days. Temperatures will range from 66-degrees at the lowest on Thursday before climbing to 73-degrees on Sunday.

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)

  • Scrambling

  • Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Driving Accuracy

  • Bogey Avoidance

  • Birdie or Better Percentage

Betting Card

Yannik Paul (+2200)

My favorite this week is Paul. He’s currently sixth on Tour in GIR%, seventh in SG: APP, 12th in bogey avoidance, 15th in SG: TTG, 21st in birdie or better percentage, 61st in SG: PUTT, 69th in driving accuracy and 81st in scrambling. He comes into this week in some good form as well. He’s fresh off a T11th in his last outing at the Volvo China Open. He also placed tenth at the Hero Indian Open and T36th at the ISPS HANDA Championship across his last three outings. Paul also placed T4th at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship and T8th at the Dubai Invitational on the season. Paul also placed second here in 2022 and didn’t play here in 2023. I’m playing two units on him.

Johannes Veerman (+5500)

Across the last two outings on the DP World Tour, there may be no one hotter than Johannes Veerman. He placed T8th in his last outing at the Volvo China Open and T2nd at the Hero Indian Open in his start prior. Veerman is currently tenth on Tour in GIR%, 18th in bogey avoidance, 19th in SG: APP, 20th in SG: PUTT, 27th in birdie or better percentage, 37th in SG: TTG, 93rd in scrambling and 95th in driving accuracy. The scrambling and accuracy numbers do scare me a bit but with the rest of his stats and the form he’s in, we can look past that. I’m playing a unit on him.

Andy Sullivan (+8000)

Despite a missed cut in this event a year ago, Sullivan placed T9th here in 2022. Sullivan’s recent form isn’t the best but if we take a look back to the very challenging Porsche Singapore Classic, he placed T4th. He also placed T4th at the SDC championship and T23rd at the Jonsson Workwear Open. He is currently 11th in Tour in driving accuracy, 13th in scrambling, 36th in SG: TTG, 38th in bogey avoidance, 43rd in birdie or better percentage, 47th in SG: PUTT and 48th in SG: APP. Now, he is 126th in GIR% but comes with elite scrambling numbers and with a course with smaller than average greens, I’m fine with that. He’s also well above average in SG: TTG. I’m playing a unit on him this week.

Nacho Elvira (+10000)

Like Sullivan, Elvira missed the cut here a season ago but placed T9th in 2022. Elvira has missed one cut in nine events this season and has made five consecutive cuts. He also placed T2nd at the Magical Kenya Open this season. Elvira is currently sixth on Tour in scrambling, 15th in SG: APP, 26th in bogey avoidance, 34th in SG: TTG, 51st in birdie or better percentage, 62nd in SG: PUTT, 88th in GIR% and 115th in driving accuracy. If he can dial in the driver this week, I believe he has a real chance. I’m playing a unit on him this week. 

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